I'm a Guild Ball newbie. I've already spent money on Guild Ball, and I have been stewing over what to buy and where to complete my Hunters' Guild roster. But then I came across the new trap rules, and I was taken aback. I'll explain why, despite the fact that I'm sure it's too late and will fall on deaf ears, and in light of what seems to be a majority view that the new trap rules are a good thing. Please bear with me with regards to my verbosity (precision over concision), and if I make any mistakes in my references to rules or characters.
Without further ado, why I think it's a very negative change, and some rebuttal to why people think the changes are positive:
1. Even worse value for money, and making anything obsolete is bad.
The old Blessed Of The Sun Father box is hardly cheap or great value. Now, apart from the player cards all being obsolete, Jaecar's trap model is now obsolete. "Just use any old 30mm base or piece of cardboard" is the gist of many replies. Well, honestly, I could just cut out a 30mm pieces of cardboard and write "Chaska" on it and, voila, I now have Chaska in my roster. I don't have Seenah yet. Just give me 30 seconds to cut one out....
I bought the set partly because of the trap being an actual, sculpted figure. Tabletop gaming (especially when we're paying the price of half a dozen good PC games for half a dozen little pieces of metal or plastic) is, for many of us, about the figures, and the artwork, and the painting, and presenting our army/guild/team with pride. So, honestly, the suggestion of using a generic substitute and accepting the obsolescence of Jaecar's trap seems rather a feeble 'solution'. We pay good money for quality products, and when part of our product is made obsolete, 'Just use <insert crummy, generic alternative>' doesn't help, really.
2. Traps are now generic.
In a game that's all about a handful of team members who all feel deeply individual and carefully crafted, Veteran Minx's Jawbone Trap, Jaecar's Pitfall Trap, and Chaska's Big Game Trap, are now all the same generic thing. Rather than serving slightly different functions, and Jaecar having the uniquely larger (but single) trap, all three characters use a generic trait to create generic traps.
Many have argued that it's a net buff to traps. That's debateable. Jaecar's trap, with its zero damage but Snared/Bleed condition combo, was a no-brainer to use Rest and remove both conditions. Now it's better to be forced to suffer either 1 DMG or Snared, some argue. But in the process, Jaecar's unique ability to apply Bleed was removed, and he's now a more generic character. Minx's traps are arguably better now. But the very fact that she had pure-damage traps, fitting with her savage, psycho, 'Why snare them when you can maim them?' theme, made her quite distinct and unique among the Hunters. Now; generic traps for a slightly more generic character.
3. Traps are now limited to 5, but not character-limited?
So Jaecar can now lay down a free trap every turn for 5 straight turns, but the moment he places his 5th trap, Chaska over on the other side of the map can't lay his own traps? This is an arbitrary game mechanic taking over from a thematic character-based and model-based mechanic. Jaecar couldn't place another Pitfall Trap before because he only had one. Chaska couldn't place a 4th Big Game trap before because he only had 3. Before, if I wanted to focus on traps, I could take 3 Hunters and reach 7 traps. Now, I can take 1 Hunter and reach 5 traps. Or 2 or 3 Hunters and still only reach 5 traps, because for some reason they must share a pool.
I understand game design and game balance quite well, and there are a dozen ways the number of traps (or simply the rules that determine their placement and implact on the field) could be balanced without imposing an arbitrary team limit. Before, we were limited to 1, 3, 4, 6, or 7 traps, depending on our team roster. It was a roster-building, thematic choice. Now it's an arbitrary limit of 5 generic traps, regardless.
4. Snare overload.
Snare is great, but the Hunters already had a bunch of ways to throw Snare on somebody. Since Snare doesn't stack, once an opponent is Snared they're only copping a measly 1 DMG to set off each subsequent generic trap. More Snare may be powerful, but powerful doesn't mean it's more fun or interesting, and it feels a tiny bit like a one-trick pony now. I don't think there's a problem because traps are weaker now, or because Snare is a bad thing, but because they're generic and boringly identical. And where before different opposing players might be more or less concerned about avoiding different traps (not to mention Jaecar's trap holding a larger physical presence on the field), now a trap is a trap is a trap, and once you're snared, a trap is a generic 1 DMG to soak or go around.
5. The 'streamlined' and 'simplified' generic trap is more newbie-friendly.
In a game with weird terminology, weird symbols in Playbooks, hyper-specific phrases, tokens and counters all over the place, numerous resources, three different types of plays, and a bunch of subtly tweaked and worded (and often conditional) traits and plays that make each guild a whole different beast from the others, I don't think a grand total of 3 types of traps being boiled down to 1 generic trap type is going to help new players much. If they can handle all over the information overload of Guild Ball, but can't work out that 40mm pitfall-style trap placed by Jaecar is his Pitfall Trap, and 30mm bear-trap-style trap placed by Chaska is his Big Game Trap, something's wrong.
If "Which trap is that, again?" and a quick look at the relevant charcter card is too hard for such a player to deal with, making traps generic isn't going to help them much. I mean, really, let's be honest about that. Dumbed down, simple, and generic is not what Guild Ball is about, so simplifying/streamlining/dumbing down one element of one guild is going to have next to no impact on the steepness of the game's learning curve.
In summary, I know the sky is not falling. It's not the end of the world for the Hunters' Guild. But it's also not as simple as, 'But they're better now, so it's sunshine and lollipops,' either. What they've gained:
1. Simplified trap rules.
2. More snare and (arguably) an overall improvement to the effectiveness of traps.
What they've lost:
1. The original trap (and for many of us our only trap figure) is now obsolete.
2. Jaecar's ability to cause Bleed (and for a player without Seenah, the only source of Bleed).
3. The uniqueness of each character's individual traps (and therefore part of those characters' uniqueness).
4. Different trap area-denial potential for different team compositions (now 0 traps or 5 traps, Vs 1, 3,4, 6, or 7 before)
5. Options for choice and optimisation of when and how to prioritise Snare, Bleed, and DMG with traps Vs with character Traits/Plays.
By all means, please disagree with me. Please try to persuade me and convince me I'm wrong. But please don't trivialise the negative impact the changes have had (for some of us) on the Hunters' Guild with dismissive 'solutions' that don't address the real issue, or tell us how they're more powerful now (if being more powerful was the only issue, there would be no cause for complaint).
I'd also like to make it abundantly clear that I've been on both sides of these kinds of debates over the years. I've been a staunch advocate and defender of overhauls, streamlining, etc in some games, but I've also been vehemently against it for other games. Each and every time it's the spirit and essence of the game, what's fun, and what's balanced that has informed by viewpoints. So I'm not one of those grumps who resists change. I just resist change away from what makes something good in the first place. Personally I would prefer to keep traps as they were, but do away with the place-trap-then-push-them-into-it-in-the-same-activation option, to focus and balance around area denial and team plays. I'm sure many veterans would hate that idea, as it would remove one of their favourite Jaecar plays. But such a change would, I think, be in the spirit of what the Hunters' Guild traps should be all about.
Rant over. Bring on the agreement, disagreement, or crickets....